Among the many significant legacies passed on from generation to generation are economic prosperity, a healthy environment, world peace, and cultural heritage. In recent years, the preservation of 'non-physical' heritage - local traditions, cultural expressions and their practitioners - has also emerged as one of the urgent priorities in light of the speed at which valuable cultural heritage is disappearing in modern times.
At the centre of this movement resides UNESCOís Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH), for which the Korean government provided an intriguing perspective with its "Living Human Treasures" project which contributed in directing focusing the attention of member states to "the significant role that practitioners, actors and creators play in enacting and transmitting a particular heritage."
Korea has continuously strived to ensure the viability of preserving and raising awareness of its invaluable heritage within practitionersí communities through annual cultural festivals, such as Gangneung Danoje and the Hansan Mosi Cultural Festival, which seeks to remind people of the importance of the transmission of intangible cultural heritage.
Koreaís designated Intangible Cultural Property holder for the fine art of Mosi-weaving, Ms Bang Youn-Ok will visit Chennai to participate in the Living Legends section of Kaivalam, the World Crafts Council Summit in
About Mosi Weaving
Mosi-weaving is a traditional cultural practice handed down from generation to generation by middle-aged women in the Hansan region of South Chungcheong Province. The weaving technique is characterized by its method of inheritance through female family members, in which mothers transmit the traditions to their daughters or daughters-in-law.
Mosi-weaving is recognized as an important intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO for its engagement in binding the community and its potential to enhance the global recognition of the
diversity of hand-woven textiles. As of today, there are approximately 500 people in the region who still practice the technique.
Hansan Mosi is a tradition fabric for summer, symbolizing the beauty of Korean craft. Its origins go back to the Baekje era. Due to its immense historical value, the Korean Government has designated it as an important intangible cultural property in order to protect and preserve its production technique. At present the three people who possess Mosi fabric production skills are Jeong-Ok Mun, Youn-Ok Bang (Important Intangible Cultural Property No: 14) and Sang-Deok Na (Chungnam Intangible Cultural Property No: 1) and are recognised by the Korean Government and Chungcheongnam-do as holders of the traditional weaving technique. These exemplary craftspersons have been tasked with continuing to preserve the traditional techniques of producing mosi fabric through an ongoing programme at the Hansan Mosi Fabric Hall which opened in August 1993. This museum provides a venue for the interested students of the region to continue this traditional line. The museum that is located at the edge of the Geonjisan Mountain where the Mosi plant was first discovered.
"I wish more and more of the young generation would learn the weaving of mosi, a technique which has become a heritage for humanity," says 66-year-old Youn-Ok Bang, Koreaís designated Intangible Cultural Property No. 14. "It is my vision and duty to set the groundwork for the mosi-weaving technique so that it remains in existence from generation to generation."
Bang Youn-Ok is credited with weaving ramie fabric that is as translucent and light as a dragonflyís wing! Along with clothing made of hemp , called sambe, ramie garments were the most popular traditional attire during summer. Woven from the fibres of the hemp plant, sambe is a coarse-textured fabric that was used to make the everyday clothing of common people. In contrast, ramie is a finely woven fabric made with fibres from the ramie plant. As the making of ramie fabric required a painstaking process, its garments were an item of luxury that was associated with the elite segments of society. During the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) high-quality ramie would be presented as a tribute to the king. Its texture was so fine and translucent that people would compare the lightness of ramie fabric to the wings of a dragonfly!
Bang Youn-Ok says she learned her craft from two masters: her mother and a neighbour
In August 2000, Bang was designated the Important Intangible Cultural Property title holder, 23 years after learning the ramie-making craft from her mentors.
About the weaving process, Bang states "Itís like walking on thin ice all the time," Bang explains. "If you lose your concentration even for a second, then you can make a mistake. And if you get frustrated, you will lose a thread. Ramie is so delicate and tightly woven, particularly fine ramie, that you have to tend it like you would a newborn baby. Nothing is more exquisite than a well-made outfit of fine ramie. Ramie clothing should have a loose fit to allow circulation and keep you cool. The fabric is so airy that even people who donít have an attractive figure can look good in ramie. Though the fabric is durable, a careless move can result in a crease. So, even the king had to move about carefully when wearing ramie."
Kaivalam- A World Craft Summit
7-10 October, Chennai, India
The World Crafts Council (WCC) was founded in 1964 and is a non-governmental, non-profit organization. WCC is the only International NGO working in the craft sector, and is proud to be affiliated with UNESCO in a consultative status. What began as a single entity in the United States eventually grew to encompass five regions óAfrica, Asia Pacific, Europe, North America and Latin America. By working with countries, world bodies, non-governmental organizations, and the media, WCC aims to provide the artisan a voice in the community. This is critical in an era where industrialization and modernization have marginalized the role of crafts in society.
The World Crafts Council will present a major World Craft Summit to coincide with the 17th General Assembly of the World Crafts Council to be held in Chennai, India at the ITC Grand Chola from 7th to 10th October 2012. The hope and vision of the Summit is of a global community in which the wellbeing of artisans and their wisdom is respected and nurtured as essential for the future wellbeing of mankind.
Ms Bang Youn-Ok
Koreaís designated Intangible Cultural Heritage Property No:14 for the fine art of Mosi Weaving.
Ms Bang Youn-Ok, Koreaís designated Intangible Cultural Treasure for Mosi-weaving will demonstrate the fine art of Mosi-weaving which has been designated by UNESCO as an exquisite example of the intangible cultural heritage of the world. at the World Crafts Council Summit in Chennai from 7-10 October 2012.
"Ramie clothes are so wonderful. Not only are they elegant, they also
become more durable with wear, and whiter and finer with washing. I thought all Korean ramie was similar, but I found that Hansan ramie is especially
durable and white," says Bang. Bang treasures a white ramie jacket that her mother made for her 50 years ago when she got married, She exclaims "Even after 50 years, it is still fresh and white, like brand new".
"Every day I go to the Hansan Mosi Museum to weave ramie. In the olden days, all women would have to sit at the loom and weave. Some of the elderly ladies who come to the museum take one look at me and have to turn away. They donít want to remember the hard labor they put into weaving when they were younger. For sure, this work makes my back ache and strains my eyes. In the past, women would have to work in the fields, thresh barley, and draw water. And they spent the night
weaving, getting little sleep. So, itís a painful memory for some. But other people enjoy watching me work, saying that it reminds them of their mothers, especially older men. The younger people just think itís fun to see. Itís tiring but I still like doing this. After watching me weave for a while, everyone says the same thing: ĎI didnít know it took so much work to make ramie!í Well, thatís enough for me." - Bang Youn-Ok
Byung Soo Eun
Chief Designer & Founder of EUNcouncil & VIUM
Artistic Director of Gwangju Design Biennale, 2008~2009
Visiting professor of Korea National University of Arts
Currently Artistic Director of Seoul City
Mr Byung Soo-Eun, designer and crafts specialist, Former Artistic Director of Gwangju Design Biennale, current Artistic Director of Seoul City and Visiting professor of Korea National University of Arts, will speak about Korean Craft and its relevance in the contemporary world at an international seminar titled ďThe Future is HandmadeĒ at the World Crafts Council Summit on 7 October 2012 in Chennai.
7-10 October 2012, Mosi Weaving Demonstration by Korea's Intangible Cultural Treasure, Ms Bang Yeon-Ok, at the World Crafts Council Summit, Chennai.
For further information contact InKo Centre T: 044 2436 1224; E: firstname.lastname@example.org